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Corporate reputation has grown in recent years, with organizations concentrating on meeting objectives while maintaining a positive image. The "process of identifying what other people are saying or feeling about you or your firm; and taking efforts to ensure that the general consensus is in accordance with your goals" is referred to as reputation management (Business Dictionary, n.d.). Corporate reputation refers to a company's overall assessment of its perspectives and efforts in attracting key stakeholders (Burkhardt, 2008). The sentiments of stakeholders on a firm and its competitors are influenced by its reputation. A company's reputation is heavily influenced by its history and present actions. The role of reputation in determining sales and profitability of a business is huge. The business that has established brands have very much to lose when mistakes at the operational level by employees or management have negative impacts on their reputation. This essay shows that the advent of the internet and social media has spawned the need for effective reputation management to protect established brands using Apple as a case study.
The internet and social media has no doubt been a big driver for the success of businesses in internationalization and access a global customer base. Businesses that are based solely on the internet with no physical retail stores including Zara and Amazon have succeeded through the internet and compete effectively if not better with established brick and motor stores. Zara is an example of excellence in the fashion industry with fast inventory management and limited lead times. However, the internet and social media have also ensured information flow is instant, and any mistake that has negative reputation impact can have catastrophic effects on business. Social media and the internet have made it easy for customers and the public to share information about a business easily and faster such that a 30-seconds delay in deleting a tweet or a Facebook posts can cost a business millions of dollars in lost revenue and irreparable damage to its reputation. Cases of reputation damage for mistakes on the internet and operational level of business include the viral video of a forceful ejection of an Asian passenger from United Airlines plane for declining to forfeit his seat for maintenance workers (Rushe & Smith, 2017). The video was shared on social media and led to $1 billion loss of value within 24 hours and a lot in public relations with calls to boycott the airline (Rushe & Smith, 2017). Other companies that have had reputation damage on the internet and social media include Dove, Pepsi, McDonald's, Uber, and Adidas. The effects of social media and the internet have huge losses associated with mistakes that affect the company’s reputation hence has led to heightened reputational management among established brands including Apple.
Established companies heighten management of their reputation to avoid losses and maintain close relations with customers. Apple has made strides in recent years to ensure its reputation with the stakeholders is upheld. The appointment of an environmental policymaker to Apple’s executive team in 2013 and continuous commitment to environmental conservation are examples undertaking by the company (Price, 2017). These efforts ensure the company is considered a leader in environmental conservation and its reputation as environmentally conscious kept intact. The efforts have improved coinciding with the importance of social media from its poor environmental considerations in 2006 (Price, 2017). Apple also responds very quickly to any news on social media and the internet that could tarnish its reputation and seeks to ensure the customers of the safety of their data and devices. The response to attacks on iCloud, Antennagate, and Apple Maps has been effective at ensuring the company’s reputation remains intact.
Apple also takes measures to correct mistakes once highlighted and collaborates with regulatory agencies to ensure its reputation is not tainted. Apple quickly apologized and revealed supplier after the allegations of horrific working conditions in China. The company also announced a partnership with Fair Labor Association to undertake factory inspections regularly. The approach was different mainly because of the increased role of the internet and social media compared to several years ago when the company did not respond to suicides of 18 workers at its main supplier, Foxconn, China (Ballinger, 2012 & Moore, 2012). Apple’s CEO apologizing and explaining the shows the company’s increased focus on reputation management. Other reputation management efforts undertaken at Apple include ensuring posts on social media platforms by employees and management reflect the company’s values and culture, creating a culture of innovation and excellence, adherence to international standards, and continued focus on meeting financial targets.
Not only does Apple seek to protect its reputation from bad publicity but uses marketing and innovation to maintain its reputation. Apple has effectively used social media and the internet to communicate and interact with consumers and effectively makes the best launches of new products. The company ensures customers know of new products and innovations allowing it to maintain its reputation as innovative and trendy. Apple also uses social media and the internet to maintain a community of customers and other stakeholders and seeks to instill values associated with the brand further enhancing its reputation. The internet and social media has definitely increased the need for reputation management by Apple and other companies and will continue as the risk of reputational damage have increased tremendously. Companies have also realized the benefits of corporate social responsibility and having an excellent reputation with the customers and other stakeholders.
Ballinger, J. (January 31, 2012). Apple tries damage control after horrific working conditions at its factories exposed. Alternet. Retrieved on December 17, 2017 from https://www.alternet.org/story/153946/apple_tries_damage_control_after_horrific_worki ng_conditions_at_its_factories_exposed
Burkhardt, R. (2008). Reputation Management in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Analysis and evaluation of the use of Reputation Management. A survey of Small and Medium- sized Enterprises in Germany. diplom. de.
Business Dictionary. (n.d.). Reputation Management. Retrieved on December 17, 2017 from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/reputation-management.html
DeMers, J. (May 30, 2017). The 7 biggest social media fails of 2017—so far. Entrepreneur. Retrieved on December 17, 2017 from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294925
Moore, M. (January 11, 2012). Mass suicide’ protest at Apple manufacturer Foxconn factory. The Telegraph. Retrieved on December 17, 2017 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9006988/Mass-suicide-protest- at-Apple-manufacturer-Foxconn-factory.html
Price, D. (January 3, 2017). Why Apple was bad for the environment (and why that’s changing). MacWorld. Retrieved on December 17, 2017 from https://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/apple/complete-guide-apples-environmental- impact-green-policies-3450263/
Rushe, D. & Smith, D. (April 12, 2017). United Airlines CEOS offers softer apology after stock nosedives. The Guardian. Retrieved on December 17, 2017 from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/11/united-airlines-shares-plummet- passenger-removal-controversy
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